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INTERVIEW: J. Alan Schneider

Hi J, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks for having me! Just gearing up for some Northeast dates to support my new album, and I’m really excited about all the positive feedback I’ve been hearing for the record itself.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Behold”?

“Behold” is kind of the song that pushed my motivation over the edge to actually sit down and record this debut EP. I wrote it in the backyard of my childhood home in NH (was up visiting my folks one weekend) and, both lyrically and musically, it really speaks to exactly the message I’m trying to deliver right now.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Without diving too much into literal interpretation, I wrote this song about a friend of mine who’s always moving on to the next thing. I think we all have a friend or two who seems to love bouncing around from relationship to job to travel and back again, never settling in one place. So the verses depict the lonesomeness that come with being that independent. But the refrain of the song keeps coming back to the concept that, even though this person has that freedom, they’re watching the world go by without them.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

I don’t think I’m planning to release a music video at all for this record, at least not in the traditional sense. I do have a bunch of really awesome session videos I performed that were beautifully shot by my friend Derek Springsteen, a wonderful photographer and designer based in NYC. We hopped a ferry one day from Midtown and headed to Fort Hancock near Atlantic Highlands in NJ… it’s this really old abandoned fort. We posted up, recorded some songs with a really basic production team (including Derek’s brother Drew and my girlfriend Julie) and I’m super proud of them. You can see them on my YouTube channel.

The single comes off your new album Lo & Behold – what’s the story behind the title?

Well the title of the album comes from the lyrics in “Behold” which I explained a little bit in your other question. But the double meaning there is that this is my entrance into the music world as an indie folk recording artist. I’ve played in bands since high school, mostly indie and pop rock acts. So this album title is sort of the literal call to people to say “hey! this is my music now.”

How was the recording and writing process?

Some of these songs are as old as three or four years. While others (like “Arkansas” and “Benchmarks”) I wrote in the process of recording the album. I made a concerted effort to make this record entirely by myself. I produced, performed, recorded, mixed, and mastered it all on my own, with the help of my girlfriend Julie. Her apartment is further away from NY’s elevated N-train than mine is… so I actually recorded most of it there, pushing that space (and Julie’s patience) to the limits. I think it made for a very honest record… one that sounds like a folk album should — just a dude with an instrument in a living room.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I’ve been playing music since I was five (lived next door to a piano teacher), and I’ve been writing songs and composing music since I was about 12/13. So, that’s sort of my comfort zone: a guitar and a notepad. Each song on the record has its own story, but I think the one that’s most special to me is “Benchmarks”. I wrote the initial lyrics on a crumpled up napkin in my pocket, sitting on a bench in NYC as the sun came up (was just getting home from a late night). I was really sort of transfixed by the carvings on the bench i was sitting on, amazed at just how many people had literally left there mark on this huge city I live in. And it got me reflecting on all the amazing people I have in my life and how I don’t thank them enough for the marks they leave for me.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yup! Other than a local show or two in NY, I have about 5 dates coming up in October to celebrate the physical release of my record. I’ll be hitting everywhere from Burlington, VT to Boston to my home market, NYC.

What else is happening next in J. Alan Schneider’s world?

I’ve got some really cool stuff coming up after the tour, too! I’m putting together some limited merch with some local artists, and I’m playing some songwriting showcases in early 2016. But, mostly, I’m just excited to keep writing tunes and keep meeting new people. Music connects people, and at the end of the day, that’s all I really want to do.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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